Tech firms push ahead with calls for immigration reform: Technology firms such as Google, Firefox and Yelp have joined the Engine Advocacy coalition to launch Keep Us Here, a site meant to give people direct access to lawmakers to lobby on immigration reform.
As The Washington Post reported, the movement comes as the Senate debates a bipartisan immigration bill this week, and allows people to contact lawmakers through e-mail, Twitter and phone calls to advocate for reform.
Hands-free tech can still be dangerous: A study from the AAA Foundation finds that going hands-free behind the wheel still presents plenty of distractions, The Washington Post reported. Distracted driving becomes a problem when users make calls or send texts — even when they aren’t actually holding their phones.
In fact, the technology meant to help drivers stay focused may not be that effective.
“We found that interacting with the speech-to-text system was the most cognitively distracting. This clearly suggests that the adoption of voice-based systems in the vehicle may have unintended consequences that adversely affect traffic safety,” the report said.
In a statement Wednesday, Consumer Electronics Association President Gary Shapiro said that the study’s “broad conclusions about voice-to-text technology should be questioned.”
While Shapiro said the CEA supports research into increasing roadway safety, he pointed to another study conducted by Virginia Tech’s Transportation Institute that he said more accurately represented real-world conditions and found no increased safety risks from voice-activated technology.
Facebook, Microsoft join Google in call to ease security restrictions: Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo and Google called publicly for the U.S. government to ease security restrictions that prevent technology companies from disclosing information on some national security requests.
Alex MacGillivray, Twitter’s general counsel, also lent his support to those efforts, saying on the social network that Twitter “supports efforts” for more transparency.
The move from companies follows a larger effort to convince the U.S. government to reform its practices. On Tuesday, the American Civil Liberties Union sued the National Security Administration over its phone record collection program, saying it was a constitutional violation. On Wednesday, the Progressive Committee for Change said it will deliver over 100,000 signatures to the Senate demanding action against what it calls “dragnet spying.”
CDT president to step down: Leslie Harris, president of the Center for Democracy and Technology, announced Wednesday that she will step down from her position after the organization’s 20th anniversary in March 2014.
Harris, who has been the group’s president for eight years, said that she plans to take some leave once she resigns, and did not disclose where she may land.
Groups ask government to challenge Waze acquisition: Consumer Watchdog has asked the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission to block Google’s planned acquisition of the mapping site Waze — a deal the companies announced Tuesday that is believed to be worth $1.1 billion.
In letters to FTC Commission Chairwoman Edith Ramirez and Assistant Attorney General William Baer, Consumer Watchdog President John Simpson said that Google already “dominates” the online mapping business.
“Now with the proposed Waze acquisition the Internet giant would remove the most viable competitor to Google Maps in the mobile space,” Simpson said. “Moreover, it will allow Google access to even more data about online activity in a way that will increase its dominant position on the Internet.”